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A Little Walk With God

A daily devotional through the Bible narrated as if walking through the garden east of Eden with God. Scriptures come from a daily reading plan that take you through the Bible in one year, generally coming from The Voice. Our website is http://alittlewalkwithgod.com or http://richardagee.com
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Thanks for listening.

Richard

Apr 9, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 29; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 197 through 203
Alvin was the third of eleven children born to William and Mary in a little town called Pall Mall. William scratched out a meager living as a blacksmith and farmer to support his family and died early in the hardscrabble life of the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. William died early, Alvin quit school to help support the family and was rough and tumble young man acquainted with fistfights.
Alvin attended the Church of Christ near his home in Tennessee and found God during his young adult years making him a changed man. But like many his age, he found himself drafted into the Army to serve in World War I. He tried to get out of the draft as a conscientious objector, but discovered that his denomination had no specific doctrine concerning pacifism so found himself embroiled in the fight in Europe.
Alvin C. York. One of our nation’s most decorated soldiers. No one would have picked him for such a role when he was growing up. No one thought this backward boy from the hills of East Tennessee would in one battle kill 25 and capture 130 German soldiers and take a machine gun position that was destroying so many American troops. His actions helped open the way for the American victory in the Argonne offensive. Gary Cooper won an academy award portraying this great American hero.
Alvin C. York, like many I have met who have been awarded our nation’s highest medal, was a very quiet, unassuming man who sought no fame. He like many felt he was just doing his duty. He didn’t talk about those days much and never bragged about them in any way. To him, it was something anyone would do to support his fellow soldiers.
I know one of his direct descendants. He attended my church for a while. His character is similar. Quiet. Unassuming. In the business of saving lives. LTC York is a physician by trade and uses his skills to save thousands each year just as Sergeant York did.
Sergeant York was an unlikely candidate to do what he did. No one would have picked him. We’ve seen a lot of those characters as we’ve moved through The Story, God’s plan for bringing us back into community with him. Noah, Abraham, David, Hezekiah, Jeremiah, Matthew, the Samaritan woman, the Centurion, the women in Jesus’ life. So many people recorded in God’s word that from the outside just don’t have what the world would say are the characteristics necessary to change their community or the world.
Yet God saw each of these unlikely individuals from his upper story and knew their heart. He knew how he could use them to move us toward him in ways we could not understand. He knew he could use them to shape his plan toward the ends he desired. They only needed to obey him. These unlikely candidates did incredible, impossible, God ordained things and changed their world. They each bring us closer to understanding the relationship God wants for each of us.
This week we read about another of those unlikely candidates. A man no one from a human perspective would think God could ever forgive because of the actions he took against those early followers of his Son, Jesus. Saul, who God would later call Paul, held the coats of those who stoned Steven. He received authority from the temple to chase down these followers of Jesus and have them not just persecuted but killed. Yet, God chose this murderer of Christians to be his missionary to Gentile world.
Paul would write half of what would become the New Testament. Thirteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament are ascribed to his authorship. An unlikely character in God’s pantheon of heroes. But God doesn’t look at men and women the same way we do. He doesn’t choose based on what we see in our lower story. He doesn’t choose people the way we examine them with all our human relation tools for job hunting. No. God sees the potential in the way he created us and sets his plan in front of us.
God’s upper story uses the most unlikely people to advance his purpose to bring us back into a face to face relationship with him in the garden he has been preparing for us since Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden. God also asks us to be obedient to his call. He called each of these unlikely people to different tasks. Some were easy. Some were difficult and at great personal risk. But each required them to obey God’s command to go and do something for him.
So what is God asking you to do? It might be as simple as taking a meal to a sick neighbor to visibly share the compassion that God has for others. It might be to listen to the teenager that sits at the bus stop with tears in her eyes and just hear her story and tell her your own story so she knows there is a God in heaven who loves her. It might be something that is much bigger than you think you could ever do. It might even sound impossible. But when God gives you something to do, he will always give you what you need to make it happen. It might be resources, it might be skills, it might be relationships with other people who will give you help.
God uses unlikely people so others know that when God-like things happen, we are not the ones responsible for their implementation. God is. We are just his tools in giving ourselves to him in obedient service. God uses unlikely people to help us understand that no matter who we are or how little you think you might could contribute to God’s plan, he has a different view. God will use you to further his plan. He will use you to help others know that he is full of grace and truth. He will use the most unlikely characters so we can know that he wants everyone to come to him and know his salvation.
There is only one thing to remember about it all. We are all part of God’s Story, but to find yourself in his garden at the end of time, you must obey him. His creation. His rules. God is full of grace. But God is also full of truth. The balance is met at Calvary where those who believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins and follow him will not perish but have eternal life. But that most famous of verses continues in Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. He didn’t come to condemn the world, but when we don’t believe, we are already condemned. Jesus is the way to eternal life and there is no other.
As unlikely as you might feel as a hero for God, he can use you in his plan. All it takes is looking up and letting him lead you wherever he wants you to go. And do whatever he wants you to do. That’s it. Then you’ll find yourself on that list of heroes, too.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more about The Story and our part in it. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn’t, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.
Apr 2, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 28; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 190 through 196

Anticipation. Sometimes it feels good doesn’t it. Sometimes it just tears at us. Let me give you a couple of examples. Kids anticipate Christmas. They are excited about the approach of the day and what they might find under the tree. They might have climbed into Santa’s lap and told him and no doubt they dropped hints around the house about what they really wanted. As the day approaches, so does their anticipation. It goes and grows and feels pretty good as the day gets closer.

But then there is the other side of anticipation. Some friends of mine built a house a few years ago that their contract said would be done in about five months with a guarantee to be finished before Thanksgiving. Five months came and went. Halloween found them without a home. Thanksgiving passed them by without a place to call their own. Christmas. New Year’s Day. The five months of construction and a seven month guarantee ended up being more than a year and still took them to court because the construction was of such poor quality.

Their anticipation brought nothing but more pain and heartache and bills and living on the edge waiting for their house to become at least habitable, though never as complete as they dreamed.  

Jesus stood on a hillside the last time his disciples saw him and told them he would be back. He told them he’d come to take his bride to a place he was building for her. A new heaven and new earth. Then he told them to go to Jerusalem and wait for power to carry out the mission he gave them until he returned.

Now if you heard his words that day, wouldn’t you expect him to come back in a few days or weeks? If your boss said, “I’ll be back soon.” Wouldn’t you think that meant he took a short vacation or had a business meeting somewhere and would be back in the office before you had a chance to retire...or die! That’s what the disciples thought. They anticipated his return. Soon. But they also had a task to do before he came back.

Remember his mission for them and us? “Go into your neighborhood [Jerusalem], go to those that live near you and are somewhat like you [Judea], go to those that you don’t like very much [Samaria], and go to places and people you don’t even know [the uttermost parts of the world] and make disciples. Teach them everything I have taught you. Baptize them into the same faith into which you have been baptized, the one that proclaims the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

They went to Jerusalem. They went to a room they had met in before. All day and night, without a break, they took shifts praying, asking for something they didn’t understand. Jesus told them to wait for power and they asked for direction, for Jesus’ return, for power. Finally, they quit asking for Jesus to return. They quit asking for the Romans to be defeated. They quit asking for the pockets to get full. They quit asking for the Sanhedrin to stop looking for them or harassing them. They stopped asking for health. They stopped asking for everything...except the power to do the mission Jesus gave them to do. They didn’t know what they were asking for but finally all of them agreed what they needed was the power to carry out the job.

120 of them. All in one accord. All praying for one thing. To receive the promised power to do the work God asked them to do. Then it happened. God’s Spirit came and rested on, and filled each of them. They went out into the crowd that had gathered for the annual celebration of Pentecost, the first harvest. 120 mingled through the crowd telling them what had happened over the last seven weeks and the message that Jesus left us. Repent. The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Believe in him and have everlasting life.

Peter preached that morning and the number of converts grew from 120 to 3,000. A pretty good evangelistic sermon that morning. Read it in Acts Chapter 2. They didn’t have any fine churches with steeples and fancy altars. They didn’t have praise teams and bands or choirs and orchestras. They didn’t have pulpits or lobbies with café’s and doughnuts. What they did have was the power of God’s spirit living in them.

Have you ever thought about that? When God’s spirit takes hold of us and we let him take charge of us, we have the same power in us that raised Jesus from the dead. We have resurrection power in us. You’ve probably heard a song like that. But it’s absolutely true.

There is one catch, though. Remember the disciples spent 40 days and nights waiting and praying for the promised power. They didn’t know exactly what they were praying for, but quite frankly, until God’s spirit lives in us, we don’t know what we are praying for either. It’s indescribable. It’s something that can only be experienced.

I’m afraid too many today don’t do the waiting and praying necessary to really know what it means to have God’s spirit in their life. I don’t see his power in the lives of his people much despite the words said. It’s easy for us to make church more like a concert than a time of giving ourselves to God’s will. We rush in, find a seat, listen to great music and 20 minute sermon, rush out the door and pretend our lives are God’s.

That’s not the mission Jesus gave his disciples and that’s not the mission he gives us. If my math is right, those 3,000 people won to the church on that first day, met together in groups of about 30 in a hundred different homes. They ate meals together. They prayed together. They shared each other’s praises and each other’s hurts. They believed who Jesus was and what he could do for them. They experienced peace and joy because they waited on the promised power and they didn’t accept a McDonald’s kind of religion. They prayed until the promise came through. And the promise didn’t come through until their heart and mission and vision changed to align with God’s heart.

As we look at the early church, they didn’t play games with words. They were much like the Christian churches in Syria or Somalia today. They risked life and death by proclaiming Jesus name. They often met in secret because death was around the corner at the hands of the Romans or the hands of the priests. Their faith meant they lost jobs. They lost property. They lost their children and families. They lost their lives. Being Christian meant real commitment and real faith, not just words to them or to those in nations today with severe persecution of those who follow Christ.

So how about you? Are you ready to take up the mission Jesus has given all who claim his name? The great commission is for all of us. But we cannot carry it out without the power he promised them and us. The question is, am I willing to pay the price to receive that power? Am I willing to wait on God and lose myself in him so that I can gain all he has for me and complete the mission he has prepared for me in this place?

It took forty days for the 120 disciples to get past themselves to find the promised power of God. Are you willing to spend the time necessary to get past yourself to find the resurrection he has for you? You won’t regret it.

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more about The Story and our part in it. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn’t, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.

 

 

Mar 26, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 27; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 183 through 189

This week we read about the unbelievable for too many people. It’s the thing that makes them pause and say, “It just can’t be true. It’s not possible. The story is just a story.”

What are we talking about? This week we read about the resurrection. We read the reaction of those closest to him who also recoiled at the thought that it was possible even after watching him do the impossible and them telling them it would happen. We watch Joseph and Nicodemus gently remove Jesus’ broken body from the cross and take it to Joseph’s newly finished tomb. We watch from afar as they race the clock before the sun sets to do some minimal burial preparation of Jesus’ body because nothing can be done on the Sabbath.

We hear of the disciples cowering in locked rooms discussing what they will do now that their king has died. The one they put their trust and hope in lies in a tomb. How could it happen? How could he be the One to rescue them if he is buried in a grave? What happened? Just a few days before, the crowds waved palm branches and cried out their Hosannas. Now he’s dead.

Then we see the Sanhedrin worry about these rebel disciples and the revolt that might arise if they steal Jesus’ body from the tomb and declare that he really did rise from the dead. We watch them plead with Caesar to put his seal and a guard on the tomb so no one would tamper with the body and continue the “farce” this teacher kept up.

We listen to the story of that first Easter morning when the angels meet the two Marys at the tomb and announce that their Messiah rose just as he said he would. We try to empathize with Mary Magdalene as she grieves and begs the “gardner” to tell her where he has taken her master’s body.

But the realization of what has happened begins to dawn on Jesus’ followers. Jesus calls Mary by name and she recognizes her risen Lord. She races back to tell the disciples the good news. Peter and John race to the empty tomb and find the linens collapsed on the bier. Those linens contain no body. The guards recovered from their faint race to tell the priests what happened. The Sanhedrin make up a story to protect the guard.

Two disciples walk toward Emmaus, puzzled by the events of the day, don’t recognized their master walking with them until they sit down to eat and he reveals himself to them. Have you ever wondered about that? I have. I think they were looking for a bloodied, crucified, disfigured man. The one they last saw hanging on the cross. Broken. Bruised. Bleeding. Flesh hanging in strips from the flogging he suffered. Instead they saw the risen Lord. Refreshed. Restored. Resurrected. Perfect. Except for the scars in his hands and side so he could later show Thomas.

Would I have reacted any different? Would I have thought Jesus anything other than a ghost when he suddenly appeared behind closed doors if I were one of the disciples that night? Would I have recognized a restored Jesus if he walked with me on the road to Emmaus? Would I have thought Jesus rose from the dead instead of being stolen by the gardner?

I sometimes we look at “doubting Thomas” and give him a hard time. I think I’d be a lot like him. It takes faith to believe in the impossible. Jesus told them some incredible things over the three years he was with them. He also told them some hard things. “You must eat my flesh and drink my blood to have any part in me.” How do you accept that in the culture you’ve lived in all your life?

If you live you lose your life, you must lose your life to gain it? How does that make sense when you hear it for the first time?

But there it is staring at you. The empty tomb. The reports of the disciples. The more than 500 people who saw him over the next 40 days. The fact that no matter how hard the religious leaders tried to squash the story, people kept it alive. Not just that, thousands upon thousands have been willing to die for this One person. No other figure in all history has changed the world the way this one man did.

All the things people through the centuries have tried to do to stop the message or discredit the story have only served to strengthen it. The risen Lord. The impossible story. It isn’t just a story. It truly is God’s story. His plan to bring us back into a face to face relationship with him. He is a holy God. So much higher in his thoughts and ways that the only way we could come near to him was for him to come to us and become the perfect sacrifice for us.

Hard to believe? So is the perfect balance of nature around us. So is the uniqueness of a snowflake. So is the diversity of humanity around our world. So is the warmth and light of the sun. So is the miracle of birth. All those things are impossible. So is it so impossible that God so loved us that he came to live among us in human flesh so that whoever believes in him will not perish but will live eternally with him?

Impossible? He tells us and shows us in his actions it is not. All things are possible with him. The empty tomb on the first Easter morning is just one more demonstration of the impossible to show us his love for us and his desperate desire to restore an intimate, personal, face to face relationship with each of us. All we have to do is believe.

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more about The Story and our part in it. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn’t, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.

Mar 19, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 26; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 186 through 192

The story is told of a major newspaper whose printing press went down in the middle of the night. The managers’ did their best with their maintenance crews to get the press operating but to no avail. Nothing worked. Finally, the owner called the man who had installed the press originally and worked at the printing press for years before retiring just a few months earlier.

“It’s the middle of the night. I’m retired. Can’t your people fix the thing?”

“We’re desperate. They’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work. Please come help us. I’ll pay you whatever you think it’s worth to get it back up.”

Reluctantly, the old maintenance engineer agreed and in a few minutes showed up at the plant. He walked into the printing press room. Took a slow walk around the press without touching a thing, just looking. The senior manager walked beside him.

“Can you get it running before our deadline? We have to get the morning run out in less than four hours. We don’t have much time. Why are you just walking around not doing anything. Can’t you hurry?”

The manager’s badgering didn’t change the old man’s speed or concentration. He just slowly walked around the press one more time. Again without laying a finger on the machines. Finally, he reached into his back pocket, pulled out a small wrench, reached inside the room sized press, and turned a single bolt about half a turn. Then, the old man walked over to the switches, started them up and the press ran like a dream.

“That will be $4,000,” the old man said.

“What? $4,000 to walk around the machine twice and turn one bolt? Are you crazy? That’s robbery,” the manager screamed at the old man.

The old man reached back into the machine and turned that same bolt a half turn in the other direction bringing the machine to a screeching halt. The manager was aghast. The manager quickly called his other maintenance men over.

“Which bolt did he turn? Hurry. Fix this thing. We have to get it going,” he screamed at his men.

Each in turn looking into the cavity in which the old man had worked his magic. There were dozens of bolts. All determined the tension on the rollers and one wrong turn on any of them meant hours of trying to reset the entire system.

“We can’t do it without tearing down the machine and resetting the system. We don’t know which one to turn. We’d have to set calipers on every one of them and we can’t get to them without breaking down the press. It will take us at least a day and a half to do it,” replied the most senior of the maintenance men. All the others nodded behind him.

The old man stood with his small wrench in his hand and his arms crossed over his chest. “Well,” he said. “You’re not paying for my time. You’re paying for my knowledge. Is it worth it?”

The manager went to the office and wrote out a check for $4,000.

That’s how Jesus is with us. We can try everything in the world to fix our brokenness, but it won’t work. I have nothing against therapists and use them for what they can do to help us heal in certain areas. But they can’t forgive our sins.

We can try to cover that darkness with good deeds, but in the still of the night, those good deeds don’t blanket the unforgiven sins that plague us. Good deeds can only make us feel good for the moment. They are never the end all because we cannot work our way to salvation.

We can try to buy our way past our guilt, but the things that money can buy never satisfies. It’s like Rockefeller said many years ago when he was asked, “How much money is enough?” His answer? “Just one more dollar.” Things cannot buy freedom from the smothering effects of the guilt of sin.

Jesus said it in John 8:23-24. Belief in him brings forgiveness of sins. Nothing else can do that. He is the way to eternal life. He is the light that shines into the darkest recesses of our soul so that the brokenness that burdens us can be brought to the surface for his healing. He is the answer to our every need. He is the one that brings joy when nothing else can. He is the author and finisher of our faith Paul tells us. The One who brings the finishing touch to the faith we talk about and hope to see become reality at the end of this life.

Like the expert that knows just which bolt to turn to make everything right, Jesus knows exactly what must be done in our life to make us right. He lived in human flesh to experience everything we experience to make it happen. He endured the Romans’ whip and the agony of the cross to make it happen. He died and lay in the cold, dark tomb to make it happen. He rose again to make it happen. He knows exactly what I need in my brokenness. He knows exactly what you need in your brokenness. He alone is able to forgive us of our sins.

Have you discovered his touch? Has he made that change in you? Do you know your sins are forgiven? You can. All you need to do is ask him, believe he will do it, then follow him. A pretty simple formula, don’t you think?

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more about The Story and our part in it. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn’t, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.

Mar 5, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 24; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 162 through 168

Jesus talked a lot about kingdoms. So I took it upon myself to just check out the largest and smallest kingdoms in the world. The largest is Russia with 17.1 million square kilometers of land mass. In fact, Russia is 7 million square kilometers bigger than its closest rival, Canada.

Now compare that 17.1 million square kilometers with the smallest country, the Vatican, which stands at a whopping 0.44 square kilometers. That’s less than 90 footfall fields. Just the fields, no sidelines or stands or parking lots, just the playing fields. The Vatican is less than two-thirds the size of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.

That is some disparity in the size of countries in case you didn’t notice. Or if you don’t want to count the Vatican as a country even though it is recognized as a sovereign nation of its own, we could look at the next smallest country, Monaco. Monaco is a whopping 2 square kilometers. So yeah it’s really big, almost three times the size of the Dallas/Fort Worth airport.

If you’ve ever gotten stuck in Dallas because of weather and walked around that place, you might be able to say you’ve walked the width and breadth of a whole kingdom and not be far from wrong.

Jesus wasn’t talking about one of these kingdom’s, though. Jesus went about the countryside staying on track with a pretty straight forward message about the kingdom. The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Repent.

Notice he didn’t say the kingdom was coming soon. He didn’t say watch for it, the kingdom might be on its way. He didn’t way it’s close by. Jesus told the crowds, everyone who would listen. The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Repent. God came to live right here with us.

Just like God walked in the middle of the garden with Adam and Eve. Just like God had Moses build the tabernacle right in the middle of the camp as the Israelites fled from Egypt. Just like God gave David and Solomon the plans for the temple and the Holy of Holies where his glory could be seen in the most heavily populated city in the nation. Just like he came in to live in human flesh. God came to live right smack dab in the middle of us. He wants to have an intimate, face-to-face relationship with us.

Jesus gave up heaven to live like us on this tiny little speck of rock in his grand universe so he could save us from our sins. He wanted to experience humanity so he could empathize with us. He wanted to be able to say to each of us, “I know what it’s like. I’ve been there.”

We cannot begin to imagine what Jesus gave up to come live with us. But he loved us so much that he did it. He loved us so much that he experienced every aspect of life that we face, yet came through it victorious. Obedient to the Father in every respect.

Russia is a huge country. It would take a lifetime and more to explore all of it. Even today there are unmapped parts of the country. Places where people have not placed their feet in some of the vast frozen wilderness in the northern parts of Russia. Then there is the Vatican. Every inch touched by thousands of pilgrims through the centuries. Priests and monks and nuns and visitors in the millions flock to the tiny country each year in hopes of catching a glimpse of the Pope, the head of the largest organized Christian denomination in the world.

But neither of these countries compares to the kingdom of which Jesus speaks. As big or rich or populated or well known or visited or isolated, no country on the planet is like the kingdom Jesus says is at hand.

Those around him hoped he spoke of a kingdom that would overthrow the Romans. The largest, most powerful nation to date. It spanned much of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Rome ruled with an iron fist. Caesar conquered all and all submitted to his rule. But Jesus spoke of the new kingdom. A kingdom not of this world. A kingdom that with one word from him would have rescued him from the pain and suffering he endured for us. A kingdom with an army of angels against which no power can stand ready to do his bidding.

God’s kingdom. His kingdom. The kingdom in which everyone who believes in him for the forgiveness of sin holds citizenship. Our kingdom. We share with him in that beautiful place called heaven. Jesus spoke of the kingdom at hand. Right where we are. Here. Now. Ready to be realized if we will open our hearts and minds to him.

Do I understand all of what he meant by his words? Not yet. I know his peace when others around me wonder at the peace I enjoy in the circumstances around me. I know his peace when the situation calls for chaos and anxiety and anguish. I know his peace when things go well and things don’t go so well. He told us he would leave his peace with us. And I can testify with first hand knowledge that his promise is true in my life. I also see that peace in the face of other Christian men and women around me that the world would say have every right to have responses very different than the peace they exude. But God’s peace, a byproduct of citizenship in his kingdom, can be with us now. In this chaotic and sinful world.

There is so much more about his kingdom we will not understand until Jesus returns and takes us there. He said he’s been building a house that will fit everyone who believes in him and he’ll come and take us to be with him when his father tells him it is time. Do I understand how that works or when that will be? Nope. No one does except the Father and him. That doesn’t mean we can’t believe, though. With all the computers chips and electronics surrounding the engine and transmission in my car, I no longer know how my car works, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe it will run when I put turn the key in the ignition. Faith is faith. The eternal question is in whom do you put your faith? Will Jesus be your Lord and King or will you try to sit on the throne even though you really have so little control over your life.

Jesus’ message is simple. Repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

You can be part of that kingdom. Just ask. Believe. Trust. That’s all faith is. Believing in something you cannot see. When you put your faith in him, you will not be sorry. You will begin to know the promises he made for those who trust in him. You will begin to see his handiwork as never before. You will begin to understand the story he laid out for us so that we can join with him again in the paradise he created for us. Death will be gone. Pain will be gone. Suffering will be gone. Evil will be gone. What will be left is the work and worship God created for us in the first place.

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more about The Story and our part in it. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn’t, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.

Feb 26, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 25; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 169 through 175

Have you ever had a question stuck in the back of your mind that you just can’t seem to break loose? I’ve had a few of those through the years. Some seem silly now that I’m in my sixties. Many I still don’t have answers.

Some of those silly questions include things like will I ever be rich and famous? Will anyone ever remember my name when I’m dead and gone? What can I do in life to make sure my family and I are comfortable? How can I get ahead in whatever career I might be in at the time?

Silly questions because none of the answers or outcomes from those questions really matter in the long run. What good is money when you’re dead and gone? Who cares about fame when their bones have crumbled in the grave? What does comfort have to do with anything and it’s all relative anyway. What does it mean to be comfortable? Is that the absence of pain and disease and injury? Will I be able to live in a bubble to avoid all sickness the rest of my life? Silly questions.

But there are some questions that did mean something and are really important. What is God’s plan for my life and am I able to discern it? Do I know my sins have been forgiven and that God’s Spirit lives in me? Have I done my best to live my faith in front of my children so they share my understanding of God, my values, and my faith?

These are important questions in life. I’m learning the first about God’s plan for my life is not as important as God’s purpose and then live my life in his purpose. And what is that? His desire and his purpose is that all would come to know him as Lord and Savior. He wants all to know him and to follow him. God desires more than anything to have an intimate, face-to-face relationship restored with each individual he created throughout time.

So then, my question changes to how can God use me to further his plan on earth? How can I be an instrument for him? The older I get, the more important I find the second question. I also find more people asking that question as they approach death. How do I know my sins are forgiven? How do I know God saves me? There is a great verse in 1 John that helps me and that I share with others to help them. It goes like this: “If we confess our sins, he (Jesus) is faithful and will forgive us our sins and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

So there is it. Have I confessed my sins to him and asked for his forgiveness? If I have, he is faithful and will forgive. It’s a promise he has made to us through his word and God never goes back on his word. I can know that my sins are forgiven when I confess my sins and do my very best to follow his teachings. That doesn’t mean we have carte blanche to go out and do whatever we want and then come back and throw confession in God’s face. God knows the difference between true repentance and playing the game of religion.Saying the right words and singing the right songs. He tells us not to test him in that way. But when we come to him repentantly, he forgives. It is his promise to us.

That next question, I must look in the mirror and some days I must admit to myself I haven’t done my best. Sometimes I let my family and friends down. Sometimes I’m not the example I should be. Sometimes I let my anger or frustration or disappointment or some other negative emotion get the best of me and I don’t respond to circumstances the way I should. I’m not the Christlike example I should be to those who are watching me.

On those days, I need to not only ask God’s forgiveness, I need to ask the forgiveness of my family and friends. I let them down and I need to recognize my fault and failure with them. I must remember the cross has two beams. The vertical beam that requires confession and a request for forgiveness from the Father because of my sins and failures in living my life for him. But it also has a horizontal beam that reminds me that I have a responsibility to those around me. And I must ask forgiveness from them when I fail them in living a Christlike example in front of them.

But the question that each of us must answer that makes all the others pale in comparison is the one Jesus asked his disciples in Caesarea Philippi. “Who do you say I am?” That is the eternal question for each of us. In your mind is Jesus who he says he is? Is Jesus just the historical teacher many claim him to be? Or is he just a good man who did some amazing things twenty centuries ago? Or is Jesus truly God incarnate? The one and only Son of the living God? The one who came to give himself as the ultimate sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin for all who will accept his gift of salvation?

Your answer to this one question determines how you will live your life. It will determine how you approach every other decision that comes your way. Your answer will decide your eternal destiny. And no one can answer that question for you. It is a question that everyone faces and everyone must answer within their own heart and mind. And when each of us stand before God on the final day of judgment when each of us will answer for the way we lived our lives. We won’t be asked how much money we made or how many houses we owned. We won’t be asked if our names were in the newspaper or we were listed in “who’s who”.

The one question that will be asked and searched out in the book of life is while we took breaths in this world, who do we say Jesus is? Do we know him to be the Son of the living God and live for him...now. But now is the testing ground. Now is the time we have to decide if we will live for him or not. We either accept his gift of forgiveness and follow him or we don’t. The choice is really that simple.

Living for him is not easy in an evil world, but the choice is simple. We believe in him or not. We follow him or not. We know him as the Son of God or not. We trust him for our salvation or not. Simple choices, but not easy ones in today’s world. They have never been easy. They were not easy when Jesus walked the dusty roads of Jerusalem. If you followed him then, it meant persecution, beatings, stoning, the cross, death. Today if you follow him, it means persecution, perhaps beatings, isolation, suffering, maybe even death. The road is not an easy one. But the choice is still a simple one.

Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?” Everything, all eternity hangs on your answer to that question. So what do you believe? Are you ready to follow? Millions before you have known it is worth it. How about you?

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more about The Story and our part in it. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn’t, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.

Feb 19, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 22; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 148 through 154

The story of Jesus’ birth. Everyone knows it. Even those who have never darkened the door of a church. Even those who try their best to get rid of the nativities in public places and change Merry Christmas to Happy Holidays. Mention “no room at the inn” and people’s first thought is that night in Bethlehem 2000 years ago.

I think we often get the wrong picture of that night, though. I love the story Randy Frazee tells of an elementary school preparing a Christmas pageant for parents. It makes me think about how God would really like us to respond and how we too often respond instead. Here’s the story Randy tells in his book, “The Heart of the Story.”

“...All the important parts were given to the important parts were given to the brightest students. The smartest girl was chosen to be Mary; the smartest boy played Joseph. The next smartest group played the three kings, the angels, and the shepherds.

“There was only one part no one wanted: the innkeeper. Who wanted to be the bad guy who turned Mary and Joseph away? They gave the part to a boy who was a little slower than the others but had a big heart.

“As the day for the big pageant approached, the boy playing the innkeeper began to worry. He couldn’t imagine telling Mary and Joseph there was no room in the inn. What was he going to do?

“Finally, it was curtain time. Parents, relatives, and friends packed the auditorium. They proudly watched the story unfold as their children skillfully carried out their important roles. Meanwhile, the innkeeper grew more and more anxious. The pressure mounted as Mary and Joseph approached. He didn’t know what to do, but somehow he caught a brief glimpse of the Upper Story.

“When Mary and Joseph knocked, the scruffy little innkeeper threw open the door and shouted with a big smile, “Come on in. I’ve been expecting you.” With that the crowd cheered and clapped and the play came to an end.”

Don’t you think that’s really what God has in mind when He shows up? The wait is over. The prophecies are fulfilled. God bursts on the scene in a way no one expected. He used the lower story in some amazing ways to fulfill His upper story. Caesar demanding the census be conducted in each person’s town of their lineage. Bethlehem was just a little village. David left there to build Jerusalem, the capital of the kingdom, remember? And born in poverty in what a family that would be shunned because of the circumstances of His birth. Who would believe Mary had been faithful to her husband Joseph when Jesus came early? She could have been stoned. All the bad things that a family could endure, that family endured. The fateful trip to Bethlehem. The escape to Egypt. Life in the gang filled town of Nazareth. The early death of Joseph, the family breadwinner.

God, by coming to earth in the form of a baby, experienced every single part of life we experience from birth to death. Most of His experiences came from the worst society had to offer. I think He did that on purpose. He didn’t want anyone to say He doesn’t know what we’re going through. He has experienced it all. But stayed true to His Father and His mission to redeem us.

The Jews were looking for a king, not a baby. God came to dwell with us. To live among us. To experience every part of life we experience. He felt all those joys and sorrows that come with living on the wrong side of the street. He knew the heartache that comes from the gossip and slander that launched toward Mary and her firstborn. He knew the grief that comes from the death of those closest to you. He knew the pain of misunderstanding from those around Him, even His own brothers and sisters.

Jesus lived among us, experiencing the life we live everyday. Until Jesus was thirty, he went to work in the carpenter shop every day. He paid excessive taxes to the Romans on the wages He earned. He probably carried some of the soldiers’ packs when He was pressed into service as He walked down the road.

His life was never an easy one. I expect the flowing white robes we see Him wearing in all those pictures and paintings on the walls were not part of His ensemble. I expect He really just had a couple of worn out rags from the local thrift store to wear. I expect the softest bed He ever slept in was that bed of straw in the manger in the cave where He was born. After that, maybe a blanket on the dirt floor or a straw mat on that dirt floor when he was older. Jesus’ life was a hard one that none of us would want to swap.

Yet, like the innkeeper in the elementary school pageant, God wants us to invite Him in when He knocks on the door. He has great things planned for us in His upper story if we will just trust Him and let Him lead the way. We don’t need to worry because He has already experienced this life from beginning to end and knows all about it. He can take us through it and give us peace and joy despite the circumstances we face each day.

How about changing your view of the innkeeper and emulate the new role model when God knocks. Swing the door wide, smile big, and answer, “Come on in. I’ve been expecting you.”

 

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more about The Story and our part in it. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn’t, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.

Feb 12, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 21; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 141 through 147

I was thinking after I read this week’s scriptures about the span of time the Israelites went from the words we hear this week until the next chapter in our quest and the next movement in God’s great plan. Malachi stood as the last writer of the Old Testament and it would be 400 years before the next prophet announced the arrival of the Messiah.

400 years. Our nation is just over half that old. We can barely think back to the founders of our country. Most of our kids would have a hard time naming five of the fifty-six signers of the document that announced our beginning, the Declaration of Independence. That piece of paper told Great Britain we had a voice.

Malachi told God’s people that God still had a voice, but for the next 400 years, He didn’t use it. He was silent. He didn’t speak through any prophets or priests. God spoke through the prophets and given His people a plan for returning to Him. They didn’t follow and were cast into exile. God allowed them to return and rebuild the temple.

Ezra read God’s message to the people gathered around the rebuilt temple. The Levites explained His word to those who did not understand the ancient language so everyone knew what the law said and what it meant. And they wept. They saw the error of their ways. They repented of the sins they committed against God and against each other. They determined to live according to the law Ezra read to them.

Nehemiah told them to go home and eat, celebrate, give praise because they finally understood what God wanted from them and could carry out His plans for their lives. They didn’t ask for a new king. They didn’t ask to be like the countries around them. They didn’t ask for wealth or greatness as a nation. They just asked for forgiveness and pledged to follow God’s guidance.

But still, God remained silent for 400 years. The priests conducted their ceremonies and worship services. The singers sang. The teachers taught. The readers read God’s word to the assemblies. The people listened and carried out the laws as best they could. Still God was silent.

Can you imagine not hearing from the leader of the nation for 400 years? In essence that’s what happened to the Israelites. God didn’t speak. They didn’t ask for a new king or a different kind of government. The people had learned their lessons. Yes, the nation lived under the watchful eye of other nations, but in that time, they patiently waited for their coming Messiah. 400 years.

I keep bringing up that number because it’s a little hard to wrap our heads around. No clear guidance for almost twice the age of our country. Nothing from God for four centuries. Silence for almost half a millennium. At sixty-three, I have a hard time remembering what I had for supper last night. 400 years is just impossible to grasp. But for 400 years, the Israelites continued to seek their Messiah. They continued to pray he would come soon. Every young girl prayed she would be the mother of their savior and king.

God’s people never gave up their search for the Messiah. They knew God would keep His promise of deliverance from their oppressors. They knew He would put someone from David’s lineage on the throne and rescue them. They knew God made a promise He would not break. They knew God could not fail and could not break His covenant. They knew God would do what He said He would even though they didn’t keep their side of the bargain. They knew God.

Yet He remained silent. They waited.

It makes me think back to Abraham who waited 25 years for the son God promised him. Joseph waited 22 years in prison for the position that would save his family from starvation. David waits 15 years from the time Samuel anoints him as the next king before he takes his position on the throne for two of the twelve tribes, and another 7 before he is accepted as king of all twelve tribes.

Today we have a problem waiting on God. We think having to wait more than three seconds for a web page to load is unacceptable and complain to our Internet carrier. We think waiting in line for more than five minutes to get our fast food is too long and demand more lines be opened. We complain to the grocer when our favorite vegetable is out of season and demand he figure out how to get it from a greenhouse that produces year round. We complain stop lights are too long. Commercials are too long. Traffic is too slow. Promotions and raises are too slow.

Think about Abraham and Joseph and David and those who heard Malachi’s message. They all waited almost a lifetime to see their promises unfold and even then, none of them saw the complete fulfillment of what God told them would happen to their descendants and their nation.

So what does it mean for us? You know that son or daughter you’ve been praying for their salvation? Keep at it. God thinks in terms of eternity. That neighbor you’d like to see come to know Jesus? Keep praying and sharing God’s word. It may take a while, but God still works in His upper story to work His will in this world.

Worried about something going on in your life? God knows about it. Just keep following His laws and doing His will as best you know how. He is faithful. His timing doesn’t necessarily coincide with our timing, but His timing is perfect. Trust Him. Remember we cannot see around the bend in our lower story, but God sees perfectly in His upper story. Look up and know God is always at work for good for those who love Him and love people.

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more about The Story and our part in it. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn’t, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.

Feb 5, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 20; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 128 through 134

This week our readings will take us to the story of Hadassah, an orphaned girl who was exiled with many of the other Jews under the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. You may not remember that name, but you probably remember her by her other name, Esther. She became queen after what might be the strangest beauty pageant ever recorded.

King Xerxes didn’t like his first wife’s refusal to obey and has her ousted from the throne. His advisors gather all the beautiful young virgins from around the country to find the king a new queen. Each goes through twelve months of beauty treatments before they see the king and then he sleeps with each one to decide which one he likes best. We frown on that kind of activity in this country, but that’s how the king decided to choose a wife and fill his harem with concubines.

Only if the king like you, did the concubine ever see the king again. Well, as you can imagine the rest of the story, the king not only liked Esther, but made her his queen. But like Paul Harvey, there is the rest of the story. Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, discovers a plot to kill the king and lets Esther in on the secret so the plot can be thwarted. The assassins are discovered and the king writes the event in his memoirs.

The king’s chief advisor, prime minister, chief of staff, or whatever title you want to give him, Haman has this thing about Jews and absolutely despises them. So he gets the king to write a decree to let anyone who wants kill all the Jews in their city on a particular day. But now the rest of the story.

The king can’t sleep one night and reads his memoirs and hears the story of the assassination attempt. He asked Haman, his advisor what kind of honor should be given to someone who does something extraordinary for the king. Haman, of course, thinks the king must be talking about him so he lays it on thick. But the king is talking about Mordecai and tells Haman to personally carry out all the things Haman expected the king to do for him. How embarrassing!

Esther, the queen, is also a Jew. Mordecai convinces her to go to the king and ask for mercy for the Jews because of the slaughter that is about take place because of Haman’s trickery. Esther invites the king and Haman to dinner to explain the plight and Haman begs for mercy from the queen. Well, the king sees Haman falling all over his queen and gets the wrong idea. He doesn’t know he’s begging for mercy, he thinks he’s begging for something else and immediately has him taken to the gallows Haman had built for Mordecai. And Esther convinces the king to not only let the Jews defend themselves, but to destroy their enemies in those same cities where the decree went out.

What a story. But it’s interesting that God’s name is not mentioned a single time in the whole book of Esther. We see His upper story at work all throughout the interweaving of the plot, but His name is nowhere to be found. I’ll come back to that in a minute. First, I want to share what I think is one of the most important verses in the book of Esther. It’s found in chapter 4 verse 14. “...Who knows? It’s possible that you became queen for a time just like this.”

Have you ever wondered why you are in the position you are in today? Maybe you think it’s a good position or maybe you think it’s not so good. But who knows? Maybe you are there for just a time like this. David was the youngest of seven. He should not have been the one chosen as king according to all the traditions of the time. He was doing the worst of the jobs in the family, tending the sheep on the hillsides. But he was faithful and became the king by which all the other kings of Israel were judged. Who knows?

Abraham was just another member of the tribe in Ur trying to survive in a harsh world that took ounce of energy and knowhow just to get by. But God told him to uproot his family to go somewhere he’d never been so He could make a great nation out of him. Who knows?

Personally, I was a medical plans officer trying to figure out how to get medical support to an army spread across hundreds of miles in battle formations we had never done before. God gave me a dream and Army medical doctrine changed because it. Since then, thousands of lives have been saved on the battlefield because of that dream. Who knows? It’s possible that you are in the position you are in for a time just like this.

Maybe you’re in a tough situation at work that just seems impossible. Who knows? It’s possible that you are in that position for God to use you in some remarkable way to make a difference for your boss or your co-workers to get through that impossible situation. Maybe He wants others to see His grace through your reactions to the situations at hand.

Maybe you’re facing some illness or the loss of a loved one. God doesn’t do bad things to us, but He does allow life to happen and who knows? It is possible that He allowed those things to come your way for a time just like this. We live in a sinful, evil time. We don’t hear much about God and how He works outside of the walls of our churches and synagogues. But the world is hungry to know there is something out there besides the evil and death and destruction that plays across the news channels every day.

The world needs to know there is hope in the chaotic environs of the everyday life we find ourselves facing each time we wake up. The world needs to see joy instead of sorrow in the faces of believers because we have something to offer the world cannot. Jesus brings peace in the middle of the storms of life. He brings joy when it seems impossible to find any joy or happiness in life. Jesus brings order to the chaos around us. He brings life in the throes of death because we know there is a resurrection and there is hope in Him.

So back to the point about God not being mentioned in Esther. Why isn’t His name in the book? I think the writer of the book of Esther faced days like we face sometimes. As Purim approached, the day the Jews now celebrate as the day they defended themselves against their enemies, it was hard to see God in their lower story lives. The decree for their destruction had gone out. Their neighbors were allowed to kill them without recourse. They had no defense. Their prayers seemed to bounce off a brass ceiling. God didn’t seem to be anywhere around. They couldn’t see past the bend in the road. They couldn’t see the upper story God had planned for them.

We can get that way, too. We can get so caught up in our lower story that we forget that God can see panoramically and knows what we cannot know. He can see beyond the bend in the road and knows the bright future He has prepared for us. We just need to look up and obey His commands. Follow Him and know He is at work in His upper story to deliver us just as He did Esther and Mordecai and the rest of His people from the hands of their enemies. We can trust Him with all we have and all we are because He is God and we are not. He is always working for good for those that love Him and work according to His purposes.

Jan 29, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 19; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 127 through 133

Since I was a kid I enjoyed art. Off and on, I have tried my hand at various forms of drawing, painting with oils, acrylics, and watercolors. I have a closet full of paper, canvases, brushes, a pretty nice easel, and all the equipment necessary to create masterpieces. Only I’ve never created a masterpiece.

I have several canvases with backgrounds partially finished and some of the subject sketched in, but I’ll have to admit that it has been at least five or six years since I’ve picked up a paint brush. I’m not even sure I know what I was thinking about painting when I first started those projects several years ago. They just sit in the back of the closet gathering dust and waiting for me to pick up the urge to start up my hobby again.

I’ve also purchased just about every cardio piece of equipment that has come out. Stair stepper. Treadmill. Stationary bicycle. Elliptical. I had every intention of starting and keeping up good exercise regimens to stay fit. What I can tell you is that the best coat rack is the stair stepper.

I also have a lot of tools, many of which I really couldn’t put my hands on if you gave me an hour to find them. They are scattered all over the house and garage. I have every intention of organizing them someday because I purchased them to make and fix things. But alas, they have gone the way of many of my hobbies. They were set aside and forgotten.

Unfinished projects. That’s what the prophet Haggai admonished the Israelites for when he wrote to them 2500 years ago. Cyrus let the Israelites go back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Isaiah had told them it would happen and even named Cyrus as the benevolent king that would let them do it.

50,000 Israelites set out to do exactly that. They journed over 500 miles to rebuild their temple and reestablish their worship in the house God designed for himself so many centuries earlier. But now sixteen years later, their project stopped. Maybe they got busy on their own houses. Maybe they got busy with their businesses. Maybe they got the sixteen year flu. Whatever the reason, they forgot their mission and quit their work on the temple. Haggai comes on the scene and tells them about their negligence.

The people who returned with Ezra worked well for a few months on the temple but then quit. The temple was still in shambles. The city walls were still down. Those who saw the city looked and wondered why the people didn’t care about their God because they spent their time on their own comforts instead of on worshiping Him. It tells what is important to them. And it wasn’t God.

The same questions can be asked of us. You can look in my closet and know that painting is not really important to me or I would have finished those paintings that are gathering dust. You can look at my tool room and know that making and fixing things really isn’t important to me or my tools would be well organized and well kept. Unfortunately, you can tell exercise isn’t really important to me by putting me on a scale.

But I don’t want the same to be said of me about God. So as we’re about to end this first month of the new year, how do we make sure we keep God first in our lives? What can we do to change our attitude and avoid making God just another project that gets put in the back of the closet this year?

First, we need to remember that God is not a project. God is everything. He is the Creator of all things. He gives us breath and sustenance. He is the one that makes life possible. He gives us the beauty around us and the eyes to see that beauty. God is. And He must be first in our life. He is not a project.

Second, God is not something to be scheduled into our calendar. I think that’s the problem many of us have. We decide we will schedule time for God and try to work Him into our busy schedule. But it can’t work that way. You see that doesn’t let God be the priority in your life. Instead, schedule your busy schedule around God. Make Him the priority in your life. Work your schedule around Him, not the other way around. If He is on your calendar, make other things secondary and push them around, not God. Rearrange their times and dates, not God’s. Let Him be the priority on your calendar.

Third, Remember what Jesus told us, “Seek first, the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things, will be give you as well.” Look for, seek after, long for, race to His finish line, Only when we keep God as our priority can all the rest of life be put in the proper perspective. But when we do, then life prospers. Maybe not in the way the world thinks about prosperity, with gold and silver and shiny beads, but with an intimate relationship with God.

Remember God wants to restore a face-to-face relationship with each of us. He has used His chosen people, the Israelites to show us how to have that intimate relationship. As we look at their history and study their successes and their mistakes, we can see what we must do individually and collectively to find God’s favor in our lives.

God sent Haggai to the ancient nation of Israel to warn them against forgetting their first priority. If we listen to words God gave Haggai and apply them to ourselves, we can avoid the plight of the Israelites. We can remain true to the One, True and Living God. We can be assured a place in the garden He has prepared for us. A place where He will walk with us in the cool of the day to commune with us forever.

What does you calendar look like? Do you work God around your day or do you work your day around God? There is a huge difference in how you approach your calendar and your life as to how you answer that one question. Mull it over to day. Make sure you answer it the way God wants you to answer it.

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